September 2023 Issue: Co-operator Newsletter Quarterly September 2023

Faces of Co-operators: Kerine Tay from SGTUFF Reflects on Her Journey Helping Tenants

Faces of Co-operators: Kerine Tay from SGTUFF Reflects on Her Journey Helping Tenants
Caption: Faces of Co-operators: Kerine Tay from SGTUFF Reflects on Her Journey Helping Tenants

As told to Sng Ler Jun

At Singapore Tenants United for Fairness (SGTUFF), I hold the responsibility of overseeing the Marketing and Communications aspects of the co-operative. My role involves creating and implementing strategies to effectively promote our initiatives and engage with our diverse community. These responsibilities include developing communication plans, managing our social media and press presence, managing events and campaigns, and fostering partnerships with various stakeholders. I work closely with both our internal member community and external collaborators.

SGTUFF was founded in February 2020 in response to the pandemic’s impact on Retail, Food and Beverage, and Services sectors. Over 1,000 verified frontline business owners have since joined, representing 873 brands across 3,823 retail outlets and 5 million+ square feet space. Engaging with the government, trade associations and landlords, we advocate for measures to address core issues. We also actively shape the Fair Tenancy Legislation and foster a collaborative community to empower frontline business.

Though I haven’t been a business owner nor a tenant myself, my passion for understanding and championing legal rights has been a constant driving force. When I chanced upon a recruitment advertisement for a role in a co-operative dedicated to advocating for these rights, I knew I had to seize the opportunity. I’m committed to promoting fairness and advocating for the rights of frontline businesses.

The reality for frontline tenants today encompasses a spectrum of challenges that cannot be ignored. More prominently, the fluctuating economic landscape casts a shadow of uncertainty over foot traffic and consumer spending. Many tenants, especially those in Retail, Food and Beverage, and Service sectors, are still grappling with the ongoing repercussions of the pandemic, with several struggling to keep their businesses afloat. Rental costs also remain a pressing concern, with some landlords being inflexible about adjusting lease terms to align with uncertain market conditions.

Additionally, the adoption of online shopping and digital services has created both opportunities and challenges. While e-commerce presents a way to diversify revenue streams, it also demands skillsets and investment that some businesses may not be equipped to handle.

Prior to joining the co-operative, I was already familiar with the co-operative model. I believe the co-operative model is a remarkable approach that fosters collaboration, shared ownership and a strong sense of community. It’s impressive to see how individuals can come together, pooling their resources and efforts for mutual benefit. The fact that members also act as owners empowers everyone involved, ensuring that decisions are made with the collective interest in mind.

Recently, we also signed a Memorandum of Understanding at Franchising & Licensing Asia 2023, witnessed by Minister of State, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth & Ministry of Trade and Industry Low Yen Ling to work closely on mutually beneficial propositions. I had to ensure that our messages resonate and reach the right audience, which will in turn contribute to the growth and success of SGTUFF.

At SGTUFF, our approach to curating the right events for our members involves a combination of understanding their needs, staying updated on frontline industry trends, and fostering collaboration within our community. We do so by conducting surveys and gathering feedback from our members to identify their areas of interest, challenges and learning preferences. This helps us tailor our events offerings to address their specific needs and aspirations.

In this intricate web of challenges, access to support and resources becomes pivotal. Frontline tenants are in search of practical guidance on lease negotiations, compliance with newly legislated Code of Conduct, and strategies to thrive in a rapidly transforming business landscape. The concerns these tenants faced are not isolated incidents; they are shared experiences shaping the future of the frontline business landscape in Singapore.

This is where SGTUFF comes in to empower them.

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Who we are

SNCF is the apex body of Singapore’s Co-operative Movement, and secretariat of the Central Co-operative Fund (CCF). Formed in 1980 with the aim of championing Singapore’s Co-operative Movement, the apex body represents majority of co-operative members in Singapore through its affiliated co-operatives.